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The news of XXXTentacion’s violent death took the internet by storm, with celebrities and fans alike mourning the loss of the 20-year-old rapper who was gunned down in a robbery on June 18 in Deerfield Beach, Florida.
Kanye West tweeted, “Rest in peace I never told you how much you inspired me while you were here.”
J. Cole expressed his condolences via Twitter, writing, “This got me fucked up. RIP X. Enormous talent and limitless potential and a strong desire to be a better person. God bless his family, friends and fans.”
This got me fucked up. RIP X. Enormous talent and limitless potential and a strong desire to be a better person. God bless his family, friends and fans.— J. Cole (@JColeNC) June 18, 2018
Tory Lanez bemoaned in a video posted to social media, “We lost a good n***a today.”
Except, XXXTentacion—whose real name is Jahseh Onfroy—was in no way a man who should be described as “good.” X was set to face a judge on charges of aggravated battery of a pregnant woman, domestic battery by strangulation, false imprisonment, and witness-tampering this year. Back in September 2017, Pitchfork published court documents containing detailed accounts of the heinous abuse he allegedly inflicted on his ex-girlfriend Geneva Ayala, including allegations that the rapper slapped Ayala within weeks of the start of their relationship because she complimented a male friend on his jewelry and then threatened to vaginally penetrate her with her choice of either a barbecue pitchfork or barbecue cleaner. She also said he broke multiple hangers on her legs while beating her and attacked her so viciously that she was basically passed out for days with a broken eye socket.
X showed no signs of remorse or guilt over the allegations and even went so far as to smear his ex and threaten to inflict abuses on anyone who called him out for the alleged violence.
“For all you dumbfuck-ass n****s that thought this stupid bitch was pregnant, I got the paperwork signifying she wasn’t pregnant,” he said during a widely circulated recorded call from jail. “Geneva fucked my homeboy. She’s using you guys for money. She’s still fucking my homeboy. I’m in jail. She tried to bribe me for $3,000, and tried to bribe my mother and my peoples for $3,000 to get her $5,000 on GoFundMe. Stop believing the motherfucking rumors. I did not beat that bitch. She got jumped.”
He added in a video posted to social media: “I’ma fuck y’all little sisters in their throats… Everybody that called me a domestic abuser, I’m finna domestically abuse y’all little sisters’ pussy from the back.” If none of this was misogynistic enough, he ended his rant by suggesting, “If you want your pussy domestically abused, hit my line. And with that, XXX is out.”
Nevertheless, in the days after the rapper’s murder, more than a thousand people descended on a makeshift memorial, including Ayala, who claimed his fans kicked her out of the gathering and also burned the gifts she brought to commemorate his life. Eventually, the crowd was dispersed by police after the memorial grew rowdy with people blocking traffic, creating a mosh pit, jumping off of nearby buildings, and climbing on top of vehicles.
The internet continues to be flooded with tearful support for the rapper, with multiple outlets publishing pieces begging the question, “How will XXXTentacion be remembered?” The hip-hop community and its myriad of influential male artists all appeared hellbent on the erasure of his disturbing, violent legacy. Or at the very least, minimizing it and respectfully paying tribute to the artist’s music. Rapper and producer Jidenna went so far as to compare him to Malcolm X.
For those who are so woke that their compassion is asleep, remember this...if Malcolm X was killed at the age of 20, he would have died an abuser, a thief, an addict, and a narrow-minded depressed & violent criminal. So, I believe in change for the young.— Jidenna (@Jidenna) June 18, 2018
While these men have focused on how the rapper’s future was sure to be one filled with “change” (with no evidence to support that claim), very little has changed for his victim who continues to face abuse because of her tumultuous relationship to XXXTentacion. On June 5, the Miami New Times reported that Ayala continues to be harassed by the rapper’s fans, who apparently seized her Twitter and forced her off Instagram. They also harassed her at an area Dunkin’ Donuts, where she took a job.
Ayala told the Miami New Times that she was raised by her grandmother after being abandoned by both her mother and father and that she has essentially been homeless since the age of 16. She claims many of her friends abandoned her after she decided to press charges against the rapper. For Ayala, making ends meet continues to be a struggle.
While the GoFundMe page that she created to help cover the medical expenses she incurred from the alleged abuse has seen an increase in donations since XXXTentacion’s death, the truth is, the young woman will never be able to seek justice because of the rapper’s death. Instead, she is left isolated with what can potentially be lifelong injuries. She is left with no outpouring of celebrity support or tributes. She is left not even the freedom to hold down a job at a fast food restaurant to support herself.
Instead of being given the chance to grow and heal, she is left broken, her Twitter account littered with allusions to suicidal thoughts and pleas for peace.
“You realize these drugs could kill you?” pic.twitter.com/4aMZn2mO44— Liv ᵈᵉᵃᵈ (@livhasdied) June 15, 2018
In response to XXXTentacion’s death and his tumultuous past, many will raise the question of whether or not we can separate the artist’s music from their personal life. But, at this point, the bigger question should be whether or not music is more important than human life itself. While many allow XXXTentacion’s debatable musical “genius” to eclipse the alleged abuse he inflicted, his victim and her need for healing and help continue to fall by the wayside.
It is the responsibility of artists in the hip-hop community to see to it that XXXTentacion’s legacy reflects the troubled star’s reality, and the change repeatedly used to justify their support in spite of it. The change that could have only been realized with justice for Geneva Ayala and the healing of her physical and emotional wounds. Let the hip-hop community unify in its resolve to end violence against women.
Or it risks creating its very own horrifying legacy: One of supporting men who unremorsefully commit unspeakable crimes against women.
Tiffanie Drayton is a geek culture and lifestyle reporter whose work covers everything from gender and race to anime and Xbox. Her work has appeared in Complex, Salon, Marie Claire, Playboy, and elsewhere.